Wednesday, February 12, 2020 8:41 am
Tunde Bakare’s plan to spend a humonguous amount of money on chairs and an auditorium elicits opposition from members of his church
By Nehru Odeh
Tunde Bakare, the founder and Senior Pastor of Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as Latter Rain Assembly, comes across as a no-nonsense clergyman. But it seems that persona is now debatable. Not only has he created a space for himself as a firebrand man of God who has zero tolerance for bad governance and corruption, he has been an outspoken critic of past governments, both military and civilian, in Nigeria. He had sometime in the past participated actively in politics and was the Vice- Presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change in the 2011 General Elections, when Muhammadu Buhari was the party’s flag bearer.
However, there seems to be a rumble in his church occasioned by his plans to spent 560 million naira to acquire new chairs and N13 billion to build a church auditorium. Those plans do not sit well with some members of the church who believe that it is a waste of rsources and that their highly respected pastor who is famous for his integrity and anti-corruption stance, has derailed.
One of such members is Adeola Samuel Ilori, a lawyer, who has spent 20 years in the church since he became a member in 1996 and has served in various departments of the church except the choir. He is at present a member of the legal department of the church.
Recently, Ilori granted an interview to Newsnowonline, where he poured out his grievances and expressed fears that not only has Bakare derailed, he is now doing those thing he had criticized in the past. Ilori’s grouse is that rather than spend that huge sum of money in importing chairs and building an auditorium, those monies should be channeled elsewhere. “I disagree with him in the sense that there’s no justification going by the standard he has set to spend such amount on chairs. Firstly, spending N 560million to buy 5,200 chairs even if the chairs will be made here is a waste. It’s a waste in the sense that I have been worshipping in the Latter Rain Assembly in the last 24years,” Ilori lamented.
According to Ilori, rather than spend N560 million to import 5, 200 chairs, the pastor should be economical and employ members of the church, who are carpenters to do those chairs, adding that, by doing so, not only would he be assisting members of the church by employing them, he would also reduce the amount drastically.
“If we even want to upgrade, I don’t think we need to upgrade to that level considering the mood of the nation; considering that he is a man I expected to be the voice of the people, that ought to live in a way that enhances not only his freedom, but that of others. Are there no carpenters in the church? Are there no furniture makers in the church? Is there no one in the church that can be beneficiary of the contract?
“That is my grouse. If you are going to import chairs that we are going to sit on, is it not the same God that we have been serving in Latter Rain Assembly that we are going to serve in that place? Will there be an imported God that will come down there? Does it mean that God is against where we are sitting right now? And if it’s about upgrading, I think we can do so without spending such amount; maybe N150 million will be okay,” Ilori averred.
Ilori also advised that rather than spend N13 billion on a church auditorium, the money could be spent on a state of the art specialist hospital where people suffering rom life- threatening ailments such as kidney disease and cancer can be treated. Such a move, he said, would also curb medical tourism. “Yes. It’s bogus. Spending billions of naira to build auditorium. That place should be a hospital with state of the art equipment to handle kidney transplants and other serious ailments that people travel abroad to treat. That N13 billion would have been better utilized. That’s what I am protesting against,” Ilori explained.
Ilori also lambasted the clergyman for eating his words and doing those things he had criticized in the past. He recalled how Bakare had railed at David Oyedepo, the founder of Living Faith Church, aka Winners Chapel, when he was building the 50 thousand- seater auditorium at Canaanland, Ota in Ogun state .”Bakare spoke against it. He said the people you did not build will destroy the building. He said what do you need 50 thousand -seater auditorium for?” said Ilori.
Ilori also frowned at the idea of the clergyman fraternizing with former president Olusegun Obasanjo, a man he had criticized bitterly in the past, adding that Bakare is now a changed man. “But now we are seeing a different Bakare. The Bakare I knew would not spend N560million on a chairs, something that can be produced locally. That’s what politics can do to a man. He was criticizing former President Olusegun Obasanjo before because of some certain omission and we supported him. But now you see him fraternizing with the same Obasanjo. Maybe for political expediency, I don’t know. That’s what politics can do to a man,” he maintained.
Asked whether he has exhausted the feedback channel available to church members to get across to the pastor, Ilori said he had made use of that channel in the past but it didn’t yield any fruit, adding that the clergyman took offence when he did that. “I have done that in the past without results. It was the last letter I wrote to him before 2015 general election that got me his attention. When I noticed that it was not the same Pastor Bakare that I followed, even before I joined his church in 1996 because of some people around him. He arranged for a meeting and started to bamboozle me when he learnt that I was a lawyer. When that didn’t work, because I stood my ground, he spoke like a pastor. I remembered what he said that day when he asked; ‘if I was digging my grave”. And I said; digging my grave for coming to you when I noticed something untoward? What other people are gossiping about?’”
The aggrieved member also said the youths of the church revolted last year when their attempts to reach Bakare met a brick wall. “Even last year, the youths revolted because their attempts to meet with Bakare met a brick wall. After series of letters that always ended on the Administrative Officer’s desk, the youths felt they had been left out until he had to call a meeting and rearranged the communication feedback channel with them,” he recalled.
What then is Ilori’s next line of action? “I am not in the church to worship pastor and that’s why my spirit, soul and body will speak when things are not okay. The church members know that it’s only me that can talk when I feel strongly about any issue. I can say it because I’m not bound. I am there to pray and praise. And there is no department I have not worked except maybe the choir. So if I have the opportunity to go to the Citadel, I will go there and serve the Lord and leave,” he said